BAD RELIGION: GENERATOR (1992)
1) Generator; 2) Too Much To Ask; 3) No Direction; 4) Tomorrow; 5) Two Babies In The Dark; 6) Heaven Is Falling; 7) Atomic Garden; 8) The Answer; 9) Fertile Crescent; 10) Chimaera; 11) Only Entertainment.
Enough subtle changes here to introduce a demarcation line between the earlier trilogy and this new period in Bad Religion's life, as the band grows older, «wiser», and a little more concerned with the melodic side of its art than sheer energy levels. Unfortunately, it is a bit too late to care about melody if you haven't already done that in your formative years — and, as a result, Generator is just a little bit more limp and lax than its predecessors, without necessarily being more memorable or emotionally complex.
Alarmingly, the title track opens things with what sounds like sped-up alt-rock rather than hardcore, especially due to the vocal melody, openly sung, rather than recited, by Griffin, and the guitar interplay, which wouldn't be out of place on an Ash record. This is not awful or ominous per se, but it takes a large bite out of the reasons why Bad Religion would need to exist in the first place — not as a footstool to accommodate Graffin's poetry, but as a monstrous locomotive to propel it along. Reduce the speed by 10 mph, and where does that get you?
What remains is the conviction: ʽGeneratorʼ, with its universal anger, and the more specifically targeted ʽHeaven Is Fallingʼ (anti-war) and ʽOnly Entertainmentʼ (anti-TV) are tradition-respecting anthems that word their concerns cleverly and sloganize their choruses accordingly: chanting these titles along with the band ensures close emotional unity, and, possibly, a willingness to break the neck of anybody who'd dare claim that all these songs are kinda monotonous.
Breaking that monotonousness are the slower numbers — such as ʽTwo Babies In The Darkʼ, the best thing about which are the wailing «woman-tone» guitar breaks, and ʽThe Answerʼ, structured as a guruistic parable with a logical conclusion ("everyone's begging for an answer without regard to validity" — something that every true scientist should always bear in mind), but so much bent on its dogmatic aspect that it almost forgets to rock. And the day when we have to accept Greg Graffin as our spiritual leader, based simply on the words he speaks, is the day when we no longer have to accept Bad Religion as a band worth a pound of dogshit.
If pressed hard to name one major highlight, I would probably have to stop at ʽAtomic Gardenʼ. Nicely found simplistic, elegantly looped riff, cool whiny, psychedelic guitar tone for the leads, non-preachy lyrics that probably deal with nuclear issues but you wouldn't want to wager on that (and namedrop Gorbachev one year after the man's resignation — get your relevance level right, you guys!), and, overall, some nice old school garage rock influence here, rather than the usual hardcore jackhammer or, worse, a smoothed-over alt-rock approach.
But overall, you'd really have to be a major admirer of Graffin's views on world issues and ability to express them in order to love Generator as much as its predecessors. The grip has been relaxed, stylistic concessions have been made, and the band seems ready to begin considering moving into the realm of «elder statesmen». Thumbs up anyway, because nothing here really rubs me the wrong way — however, do remember that «fresh» Bad Religion starts morphing into «yesterday's papers» somewhere around here.
Check "Generator" (MP3) on Amazon